[permaculture] Re Wood Ashes as a soil amendment

Steve Hoog livingpotentials at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 21 10:22:11 EST 2006

Lawrence--I live right now with a couple that simply uses a bucket with a seat instead of a toilet. after use wood ashes from the stove are used to cover.the sense of those on this list that have used human waste for gardens is that if properly composted it could be used after two years. your statement in this post suggests that the ashes would severely interfere with that process. what is your take on that>--steve h

"Lawrence F. London, Jr." <lfl at intrex.net> wrote:  john norton wrote:

> Hi
> Be careful if using wood ash as a soil amendment. The
> burning can form polycyclic aromatiic hydrocarboms
> PAHs in the ash, which can be acutely toxic to plants
> and people and they can be carcinogenic.

If at all, only use small amounts of wood ashes in
gardens. A friend years ago put all the ashes from his wood stove on his large garden
year after year. The soil became poisoned and very little would grow in it. It took him years to get it back to normal.

Never add wood ashes or any pH mediating product to a compost pile. The bacteria in compost regulate pH themselves;
if you override this with ashes or lime the pile will cease to function normally and you will end up with poor compost.
Worse yet pathogens in the pile may not be removed, thermophilic bacteria may not function and fungal growth may be 
interrupted which would slow the process of breaking down cellulose and lignin in the biomass.

Lawrence F. London, Jr.
Venaura Farm
lfl at intrex.net
info at market-farming.com
IM: lawrence.london at pandion.be & lfl at amber.org.uk
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